The holidays are fast approaching and you’re probably looking forward to spending time with friends and family, eating delicious meals, and maybe even sneaking food under the table to the family dog, but the work that goes into preparing for the festivities can be stressful and time-consuming. Make the most of your holiday season and spend more time doing what you love with these baking hacks that are sure to save you time!
Set Yourself Up for Success
Imagine you’re halfway through preparing crème brûlée: you’ve separated your eggs with master precision and everything is going great… and then you realize you forgot to pick-up one crucial ingredient from the grocery store, heavy cream. Preparing your ingredients and baking supplies by setting them out on the counter before you start making your dessert can spare you from a dessert-disaster!
Also, make sure all of the bowls, pans and trays you’re going to need are easily accessible (before you’re covered in sugar or flour) to set yourself up for a successful baking adventure.
A Shortcut to Soft Butter
Forgot to set the butter out before you went to bed? Not to worry! You can still get that perfect consistency so the butter mixes with the sugar and eggs to form a deliciously fluffy dough when you use this hack:
Prepare your butter by cutting the amount you need for your recipe into small pieces, about ½ tablespoon each. Then, microwave a bowl of water (or a large mug) on high until it starts to boil. Using a clear bowl or measuring glass is ideal so you can see when it’s boiling! Quickly remove the container of boiling water, put the bowl of butter into the microwave, and close the door. Allow the butter to sit in the microwave for at least 10 minutes (without turning on the microwave). The steamy air inside the microwave with gently soften your butter without melting it into liquid. Voila! Soft butter!
Room-Temperature Eggs in Minutes
Say that along with the butter, your eggs were in the fridge overnight, but your sponge cake recipe calls for room temperature eggs, and you don’t have time to wait. Here’s the baking hack for you.
Simply fill a bowl with warm tap water, place the eggs into the water and let them sit for at least 5 minutes. Just make sure the water isn’t too hot.
Keep Your Dough from Sticking
Great crust is a key component to the perfect pie, but rolling out the dough can be a challenge, especially if it sticks to the counter once you’ve finally gotten it evenly rolled out. To avoid a torn pie crust (and having to start all over again), you can help keep the dough from sticking by cooling down your counter before you roll out the dough.
Just grab a bag of frozen peas from your freezer (or toss some ice cubes in bags) and lay them out on your counter where you plan to roll your dough. Let them sit for a few minutes to cool down your countertop. Then, make sure to coat your counter, rolling pin, and hands with a generous amount of flour and you’re ready to start rolling!
Begin With the End in Mind
Once you’ve whipped up your favorite cookie batter, placed a batch in the oven, and eaten a large portion of the dough (for quality control purposes, of course), you don’t want to spend an eternity cleaning up. Let’s face it, nobody enjoys washing dishes. So, begin with the end in mind.
For example, let’s say your recipe calls for:
- 1 cup of milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- Dash of Vanilla Extract
Instead of using separate measuring containers for each ingredient, you could use just one large measuring glass (at least 2 cups in size). Fill it with milk to 1 cup, then add vegetable oil until the mixture reaches 1 ¼ cups, add your eggs and a dash of vanilla. You’ll have less to clean at the end. So, you’ll be free to… you know, eat the cookies yourself before your guests even arrive.
Dessert Without the Oven
Sometimes, the easiest way to save time baking, is not to bake at all! There are lots of yummy desserts that don’t require an oven, like pudding popsicles, chocolate torte and no-bake cookies. This means your oven will be free for roasting a turkey, warming up garlic bread, or you can save on electricity and not even turn it on.
Spend less time preparing for the holidays and more time enjoying them with these kitchen baking hacks, and while you’re running around getting last minute ingredients, or picking up Grandma from the airport, you can reward yourself to Ne-Mo’s baked goods for a quick on-the-go treat that requires zero time in the kitchen!